Showing posts from October, 2014

By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes...

Our Special Collections Librarian, Sarah Griffin, introduces you to some of the witches who fly through our collections.
At Halloween, witches sail on their broomsticks across the night sky and the veil between our world and the underworld becomes thin. Dressing up as a scary witch is the favourite costume choice on 31 October and as we all like to be a bit scared we thought we would uncover some creepy witches lurking in the Special Collections to get us all in the Halloween mood.

Witches were believed to consort with the devil and they were often attended by their ‘familiar spirits’ who helped them do their magic. Familiars were often cats or toads.

Three very well-known witches can be found in Shakespeare’s play Macbeth. At the time that this performance was first shown people firmly believed in witches, so to start the play showing their demoniacal plotting would have been a real curtain raiser.

In all these pictures the witches are old and ugly; a fairly typical depiction. Witche…

Go beyond your Resource Lists with Oxford Bibliographies Online!

David Brown, one of our team of Academic Liaison Librarians, introduces you to one of the many e-resources that we provide to support your work.
Your Resource Lists are a great starting point when you're looking for materials for assignments, but if you really want to impress your tutors you'll need to find lots of other sources too. Oxford Bibliographies Online (OBO) is just one of the Library's online resources which can help you to expand your search and go beyond your Resource List.
What is OBO? OBO provides research guides, written by experts in the subject. Each guide breaks down the topic into key headings, which include suggested reading and links to more material. Think of each guide on OBO as a subject-specific Resource List, giving you an idea about the key books, journal articles and other resources for that topic.

At York, we have access to five different sections on OBO:
CriminologyLinguisticsPhilosophyPsychologySocial Work How can I find material on OBO? Each …

Fun with Google Apps scripts. (Yes, you read that right)

One of our non-technical staff drank the Google Apps Kool-Aid. In this blog post, Tom Grady shares what he learned when he decided to get automated.
I have come to the conclusion that I must be fundamentally lazy. Why?

Because I recently learned about Google Apps Scripts and have become a little bit obsessed with using them to automate everything in my life. Without openly admitting it to myself or my boss, I think I'm aiming to get to a point where I come to work, set all my scripts going and then wander off to drink cups of tea.

So what exactly have I done? Well, we're hardly talking SkyNet taking over just yet, but I have managed to write some scripts that do the following:
Collect the most recent stats for my team from several Google Spreadsheets, showing how hard we've worked and what's on the horizon for this weekPut those figures into a pretty table so you can compare last week with this week at a glanceAutomatically email my boss with them every Monday morning …

Google Apps at York

Mike Dunn, from our Teaching and Learning Team, puts your working life in order with the help of Google Apps.
Time for a rant. I get really irritated when my email inbox is filled up with stuff that doesn't belong there. It would seem that some people haven’t yet figured there are other ways to communicate or convey important information. And I don’t just mean Facebook and Twitter: “When are you free to discuss…?” – please look in my Google calendar and invite me.“I’ve attached this document…” – couldn’t you just share it with me? Where am I supposed to put it? How many copies do you want hanging around? “I’ve shared this Google document with you, and in it you’ll see…” – I’m going to read it, so you don’t need to tell me what’s in it, do you? If you want to comment, add comments to it! “Attached is a form [Word document]. Please fill it in and return it” – I can’t fill it in, you’ve designed it for printing and it doesn’t work on screen. So how can we connect with each other when …

What do you really think about IT?

Following on from Jackie Knowles’ post on the Customer Service Excellence (CSE) award last week, Sarah Peace reflects on what CSE has meant in practice for Information.
One of the things we've put into practice and value greatly since starting the process of achieving CSE is our customer feedback.

I've been in charge of the IT Support Office for five years and although we've always had ways our customers could provide feedback, including comment cards and the IT Survey, this is an area we've really enhanced upon. 
In March this year, we introduced a satisfaction sampling method from our enquiry handling system. This sends a satisfaction survey email to one in ten closed enquiries that we have dealt with. The survey asks two questions: Were you happy with how we handled your query? and How useful was the response you received? Users can choose to respond anonymously or leave the specific enquiry number.
We had been worried that surveying our customers like this might c…

Did you know it's National Customer Service Week?

The Information Directorate are providers of award winning customer service. This week, as Jackie Knowles reports, we used the occasion of National Customer Service Week to promote and share our story with a showcase event.

In March 2014 the Information Directorate were awarded the Customer Service ExcellenceⓇ (CSE) accreditation. CSE offers organisations an external, and independent, accreditation which looks in detail at those areas that matter to customers when it comes to services - aspects such as delivery, timeliness, information, professionalism and staff attitude.

Our showcase invited staff from across the University to come along to find out more about what we do across Library, IT and Archives and what makes us tick when it comes to providing our award winning customer service. It was also an opportunity for leaders and managers from other departments in York to find out more about the CSE framework -  both the work involved in preparing for assessment and the ongoing commitm…

The perils of automatic captioning

Aimee Phillips finds the comedy moments in YouTube's automatic captioning (and then removes them).
I've been reviewing and adding captions to the videos on our YouTube channel, thanks to a gentle prod from our friends over in the University's Digital Marketing and Communications Team at one of their show and tell sessions.

We'd already added captions to our older videos, but the newer ones were still waiting to be done. In the interim, we'd been relying on the automatic captions, but these can be far from ideal. For example...

Which was actually: " well, but your reading list will often include journal articles"

Which should read: "...each of whom offer the journal you need. Check the dates offered by each provider"

It's important to get this right, and not just so we don't look like we've lost the plot...

As Dan Wiggle pointed out in his presentation, captions are useful for a number of reasons, including:
they help our u…